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'Thanks to Reclaim The Sea, I began to recover psychologically...'

Meet Alina, one of our Ukrainian participants from summer 2022. This is her testimony about her journey from Crimea, her experiences as a refugee, and how Reclaim The Sea helped her find joy.

"Today is exactly 9 years since Russia's aggression in Ukraine began. Exactly 9 years ago, on February 27th, I went to work and, like most people in Crimea, I made plans for the future. I thought about what I have planned for today and what I need to prepare for my clients. I I thought that I should finally enroll in a diving school, otherwise there is always no time. But unfortunately my plans were not destined to come true. Because at 9 o'clock in the morning an air raid began and from the loudspeakers it was reported that martial law was introduced in the city and Sevastopol is now part of Russia.

I arrived at work already in Russia, I had to cancel all meetings. And the administrator warned frightened customers that we would contact them as soon as the situation cleared up. Due to the fact that the organization in which I worked was registered in Ukraine, we, like most private and small businesses, had to close. And I, as well as all Ukrainians who lived in Crimea and didn't agree to live on the territory of Russia, had to leave everything and leave Crimea. So I became a refugee for the first time. Also in 2014, a war was started in Donetsk and Lugansk. For me it was the second time the situation repeated.

After 8 years, on February 24th, 2022, at the start of the war, I decided that I would help in any way I could because I already understood how terrible it was to lose everything at once. I went with volunteers to the border to pick up people and deliver humanitarian aid. Then I got a job as a volunteer in a children's room at the railway station in Warsaw. I worked with children who were running away from the war with their families. I saw a lot of shocked, mentally confused, heartbroken people when I left Crimea and second time when I was in Warsaw. But the worst thing is when our children suffer. When you can’t explain to a child why he or she can’t go to kindergarten, because his friends were there. Or why the enemies blew up his house and he no longer has a home and he has to move to another country. Or why Mum or Dad left me to go to heaven?

I heard a lot difficult stories. I am writing this not because I want to tell how good I'm or to be pitied. I want to ask what really happened and that the war in Ukraine did not start on February 24, 2022, but much earlier. I arrived in England on May 17, 2022 under the programme Family for Ukrainians. And I am very grateful to the English people for the warm welcome and help. For the warmth, attention and support they gave me and all Ukrainians who came to escape the war. Special thanks I want to say to the DCRS organization that helped and supported me in a difficult situation at the beginning of my journey in England. It is very important when someone lends a hand of support and helps you sort out difficult life situations. Many thanks for excellent courses of creativity, photography, English courses. All of this make you feel that you are not alone in this country, help you cope with stress and make new friends. Special thanks to Mr. Craig for wonderful walks and excursions.

I am also grateful to this organization for introducing me to a wonderful group called Reclaim The Sea. And our magnificent teacher Tigs. In the group, I met beautiful girls, recived new friends, and also made my old dream come true. I learned how to ride a paddleboard. I grew up near the sea and therefore the sun and sea is my area and it is very important to me. Thanks to this group, I began to recover psychologically! Thank you girls and Tig for your support and for helping me in difficult times. I also really hope that I will be able to fulfill another of my old dreams and I will finish a paddleboarding coach course. And be able to help other people recover psychologically and physically or just come to relax and fall in love with the sea and paddleboarding. I will be glad that I can introduce them to paddleboarding and make them fall in love with this wonderful sport. I believe that the sun, air, water and friendly supportive company are the best medicine for many problems and diseases.

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